DIEPSLOOT residents in South Africa last week broke out in violent protest when the bodies of two girls — Yonelisa Mali (2) and Zandile Mali (3) — were found in a toilet after they had been raped and strangled.
Five suspects ranging in age from 27 to 47 have since been arrested, one of whom has confessed to his participation in this gruesome crime. When this story first broke, I felt my insides curdle.
Who in their right mind rapes and brutally mutilates toddlers? Not that raping grown women is justifiable either!
The rape of any woman of any age group is just a gross display of sexual violence and aggression.
Women are being raped from as little as age less than a year to age 80. Simply put, rape is defined as non-consensual sex which implies sexual intercourse under compulsion, coercion, duress, in a state of unconsciousness, under the influence of alcohol and drugs and/ or even when the victim does not have full control of their mental faculties.
Statutory rape on the other hand is sexual intercourse by an adult with a person below a statutorily designated age.
This is the most flagrant form where we see sugar daddies cavorting with young girls.
Then there are the cases of the not-so-sugary daddies like the case in Bushbuckridge Mpumalanga where a step father is alleged to have raped his 12-year-old step-daughter and tried to silence her with R20.
He raped her again and was caught in the act by the mother who beat the child instead of reporting the matter to the police. Now, had it not been the efforts of a concerned relative this poor child would have continued to be raped till kingdom come while the mother looked the other way.
These are some of the heartbreaking narratives accompanying rape.
Just a few months ago I read a book entitled Endings and Beginnings by Redi Tlhabi. I felt that book gave a face to rape and almost made it seem like rape was part of the South African culture.
In an eerie sort of way, it felt as if being raped is a coming-of-age story.
It is said one in three girls will be raped before their 18th birthday.
It is reported that 66 000 rapes occur per annum in South Africa earning the country the notorious title of being the rape capital of the world.
A Medical Research Survey conducted in 2010 revealed that 37% of men admitted to raping at least one woman. 7% had admitted to participating in gang rape.
The reasons for raping are numerous. They range from the age old adage that women ask for it (rape) by being provocatively dressed. Rape is viewed as “corrective” measure for lesbians in society.
Then, off course, there is the misguided belief that raping virgins or young children will cure the assailant of HIV. Psychologists will say rape has very little to do with sex, but rather more the assertion of power and proving one’s manhood.
Whatever the reasons, I feel the consequences of committing rape have been mild. I am not even calling for stiffer prison sentences, but rather castration. The reason I take this stance is that for the most part, litigation has failed women and children.
Only 10% of reported rapes result in convictions.
Earlier this year 17-year-old Anene Booysen was raped and disembowelled and left for dead. Before she breathed her last word she was able to whisper the name of her assailant.
However, at the onset of the trial, prosecutors announced that there was not enough evidence to prosecute the assailant who walked free while Anene lies six feet under.
Many rape cases go unreported because the victims do not have faith in the justice system.
Some are even raped while in custody in police holding cells. So I understand why that angry mob of Diepsloot residents wanted to take the law into their own hands and mete out their own version of vigilante justice.
Until there are severe ramifications for rape, men will continue to rape and kill women without impunity. Rape doesn’t just occur in dark alleys or bushes. It takes place in bedrooms, boardrooms, classrooms, consulting rooms and playgrounds.
Rapists are not just society’s misfits, they are fathers, uncles, brothers, professionals, pastors and priests. They come in all colours, creeds, shapes and sizes. Saying “No”, to rape as a campaign unaccompanied by serious action is ineffective.
So I reckon it’s about time we started to relieve rapists of their weapons of female destruction.
If you can’t be entrusted to use your manhood responsibly for procreation, you should be relieved of its use.
Sukoluhle Nyathi is the author of the novel The Polygamist. You can follow her on Twitter @SueNyathi